Saudi Arabia has taken another step in its long-held ambition to develop a domestic arms industry. An agreement has been signed in Riyadh between government officials and industry bosses that will see the Kingdom reach one of its key objectives.
The deal between the Saudi General Directorate of the Border Guard and the Military Industries Corporation (MIC) will see a new vehicle, known as the Dahna, being built in the country.
"The Dahna has undergone all the standard motor tests according to international classifications," explained the head of MIC, Mohammed Bin Hamad Al-Madi. "It is a multi-tasking, four-wheel-drive vehicle compatible with all conditions and specifications for military use."
Commenting on the achievement, the Director-General of the Border Guards, Lieutenant General Awad Bin Eid Al-Balawi, said that the project will play a major role in the development of the matrix of armoured vehicles for the border guards. "It will provide training for operators, technicians and trainers in line with the requirements of the next phase in accordance with the highest standards. Those standards aim at raising the efficiency and qualification of border guards to perform their tasks efficiently in effective partnership with national institutions."
Saudi Arabia has long-held ambitions to develop a domestic arms industry. The Kingdom is the largest importer of weapons, accounting for 12 per-cent of global arms sales. It also has the highest defence budget in the world as a proportion of GDP. The US is the main beneficiary of its growing demand for arms, which soared by 130 per-cent this year.
Last year, Riyadh began accepting licence applications for firms in the military-industrial sector, a major target under plans to diversify the Kingdom's economy away from oil exports. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said that he wanted Saudi Arabia to produce or assemble half its defence equipment locally in order to create 40,000 jobs for Saudi citizens by 2030.